What the HIMYM Finale Can Teach Us About Writing
I’ve been told a few times that I shouldn’t blog angry.
I’ve been sitting on this topic for a while, but I didn’t want to address it until my fury subsided. Since the How I Met Your Mother finale aired two weeks ago today, I think it’s time to write this post.
Some viewers enjoyed the HIMYM finale. An overwhelming majority did not. How can that be? It all comes down to writing--bad writing, really, with terrible choices. Die-hard fans of the show who had watched nine seasons of heartache, growth, and yearning felt betrayed to see relationships dismantled, plot lines overturned, and characters behaving inconsistently.
Clearly, the HIMYM finale has a lot to teach us about writing, especially what not to do. So, fellow writers, here’s a brief lists of don’ts, epitomized by the disappointing conclusion to a beloved comedy.
- Don’t dedicate an entire season to preparations for the wedding of two characters that end up divorcing almost immediately.
- Don’t force two characters together, spend one episode per season explaining why they aren’t right for each other, and then throw them back together at the end of the series.
- Don’t transform a womanizer into a monogamist and then back into a womanizer who doesn’t know the name of the woman who gave birth to his child (he doesn’t even make up a name, just refers to her as a number).
- Don’t kill the mother when the entire show is about meeting her.
- Don’t kill the mother.
- DON’T KILL THE MOTHER.
- While I’m at it, don’t build sympathy for a character and kill her offscreen as little more than a footnote. It’s cruel and will only make your audience resentful.
- Don’t have your protagonist continue to pine for the same woman even after he’s found the love of his life (he claims), married her, and lost her.
- Have a legitimate reason for the protagonist to divulge his past to his children.
- Don’t have your protagonist show up at The One That Got Away’s house with a nostalgic item to help win her back… and then imply that the woman will have him (of course). THEY ARE DIFFERENT PEOPLE THAN THEY WERE WHEN THE ITEM MADE ITS FIRST APPEARANCE. WHY WOULD YOUR PROTAGONIST TRY SOMETHING LIKE THAT?
Maybe I’m still blogging angry. I promise I’m not only trying to rant. I want you all to become better writers. You can do better than the How I Met Your Mother finale. You should.
After all, that show made it through nine seasons. Anything is possible.